Volunteers help reduce the risk of flooding in South Yorkshire communities

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Volunteers are helping to reduce the risk of flooding in South Yorkshire communities by removing overhanging or fallen trees branches from watercourses.

The ‘Winter Walkthrough Project,’ part funded by the Environment Agency, Sheffield City Council and Whiston Parish Council, involves the River Stewardship Company - a social enterprise working to improve waterways for people and wildlife - organising a number of volunteer days.

Flood warden groups, parish councils and school children have also been involved so far.

They have been working at Whiston Brook in Rotherham, Blackburn Brook in Sheffield and the River Hipper in Chesterfield.

The hope is that removing fallen trees and branches will avoid watercourses from becoming blocked and will lower water levels, reducing the risk of communities flooding.

Hellen Hornby, Community Team Manager at the River Stewardship Company, said: “Some of these watercourses have not been actively managed by their Riparian owners and it is a great opportunity to involve residents in conservation work that has a noticeable effect on the area.”

Floods caused chaos in South Yorkshire in June 2007, with hundreds of people left homeless and workers needing to be rescued from building roofs by helicopter.

Emergency crews had to use boats to free residents from their waterlogged homes in Chapeltown, Ecclesfield, Loxley, Manor and Arbourthorne.

Two people died in the floods when torrential raise caused rivers to burst their banks.

A report produced by Sheffield Council says 6,000 households and 2,000 businesses are at risk of flooding in the city over the next 50 years.